Project L is the codename for Riot Games’ League of Legends fighting game, a project that we first learnt about back in early 2019. Since that initial update a great deal of progress appears to have been made, as shown in the preview unveiled during Riot’s Undercity Nights community celebration event last week.
The proposal for Project L was to make a 2D fighter set in Runeterra, the fantasy world in which the League of Legends franchise takes place.
We now know the game’s genre will be an assist-based fighter, or tag-team as they also describe it, thanks to this latest update. In the foreground of Piltover’s streets, we are reintroduced to four characters reimagined in their Arcane style: Jinx, Ekko, Ahri and Darius.
The project is being led by Tom and Tony Cannon, who joined Riot in 2016 as Senior Director and Technical Lead respectively. This new hiring occurred in parallel to their studio Radiant Entertainment being acquired by Riot Games. At the time of acquisition, the studio had been working on two titles; one of those being the fighting game Rising Thunder.
Rising Thunder would have utilised GGPO (short for Good Game Peace Out), a technology developed by Tony Cannon aka Pond3r, as a lag-free software solution for the game’s networking code. Project L will make use of this rollback approach to networking, in addition to existing technologies developed by Riot aimed at reducing latency in LoL and Valorant.
The Cannon twins are certainly no strangers to the fighting game world; many would even consider them founding fathers. In addition to co-founding the now-extinct fighting game community forums Shoryuken, they had organised the first wide-reaching fighter tournaments as early as the mid nineties. This later matured into the Evolution Championship Series or EVO, an annual live tournament event hosted in the United States.
Despite appearances of a game close to completion, Riot says that we shouldn’t expect to play Project L any time soon. In the blog post, the current demo is referred to as a ‘vertical slice’; a games industry term for a highly polished but narrow segment or slice, intended to exemplify every part of the end user experience. This means there is still plenty of work to do on the game, with no plans to ship this year or next.
“Our goal is to build a super high-quality fighting game that the FGC can invest deeply in, playing for years or even decades. That takes time to get right, and we’re not going to rush it.“Tom Cannon, from his most recent Project L dev update.
Riot are currently hiring for their unpublished fighting game, with 13 new positions recently opened for art, animation, design, software engineering and more. They state that while they’ve mostly finalised the core gameplay, controls and art direction, the game is still far from being complete.
From my understanding, this will involve developing the game horizontally outwards: building new characters and level stages, menus and user interfaces, player ranking systems and more. I’m excited to see how this project grows and evolves over the next year, and with two committed updates, we’re set to hear from the Project L team again “early in the second half of 2022”.
Are you excited to play Project L when it releases? Is it what you were expecting from a League of Legends fighting game? Leave a comment below and I’ll be sure to get back to you.